North Inner City to be hardest hit by Government inaction on co-living. Serious questions about meaningfulness of co-living ban

14 January 2021
  • Government needs to be honest with communities. 
  • Failure to retrospectively apply “ban” stands in mark contrast to retrospective taxing of PUP
  • 601 co-living units within 1km radius in Phibsborough were rushed in between when ban was announced and when it was given effect. 
  • “Ban” does not necessarily prevent future granting of planning permission for co-living facilities. 

Speaking about the scale of the co-living planning applications across communities in the North Inner City, Senator Marie Sherlock said Minister Darragh O’ Brien and government colleagues in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party need to be honest about the actual nature of the so-called ban on co-living. 

“On Dec 23rd, a whole month after his announcement of a ban on co-living, Minister Darragh O’ Brien finally issued planning guidelines about co-living. Unfortunately, the so called “ban” falls far short of what was promised.  

“The failure to retrospectively ban co-living applications in the planning system stands in sharp contrast with the Government’s determination in December to retrospectively apply income tax to the pandemic unemployment payment. It was originally introduced as an emergency welfare payment not subject to tax. It seems that it’s one law for developers and another law for those misfortunate enough to have lost their jobs because this pandemic. 

“The failure to retrospectively apply the “ban” to applications already in the planning system could mean that up to 1491 co-living beds could be approved within a 1.6km radius within residential communities in the north west inner city over the next 12months with another 102 shared accommodation units in the north east inner city in Foley Street. If these projects get the green light they will have a huge impact on the fabric of these communities. These are areas that are in desperate need of sustainable secure long-term housing and co-living facilities will not provide this. 

“Furthermore, the month long delay in giving effect to the “ban” created a window of opportunity for developers to rush in applications. In Phibsborough alone, 601 co-living units within a 1km radius were rushed in during the month of December.  

“What is worse is that the Minister delayed acting on his department’s advice for well over three months from when he got his options report. Freedom of Information requests by Deputy Eoin O’ Broin revealed the Minister had the options report from early Sept.  

“Finally, there is good reason to believe that Minister Darragh O’ Brien’s ban may not be worth the paper it is written on because of the permitted exemptions to the ban.  

“In his “Specific Planning Policy Requirement” on shared accommodation in the updated “Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments, Guidelines for Planning Authorities December 2020”, exemptions to the co-living “ban” are provided if a local authority identifies specific demand within their Housing Need and Demand Assessment.  

“The State’s planning guidelines are silent on whom co-living is or is not relevant to and we know that right now in Dublin city, demand for housing is highest amongst those seeking single person accommodation. 55% of social housing demand within Dublin City Council in 2019 was from single adults.”

Senator Sherlock concluded “given that residential construction has slowed to a glacial pace and will remain far behind housing demand over the medium term, there are justified concerns that co-living units will simply be used to fill the gap. We cannot allow this to happen for those who desperately need sustainable long term housing and for the sake of our communities.” 

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